Garlic (Allium sativum) is a rich source of nutrients that may be beneficial to health. In particular, garlic is rich in a group of sulphur compounds that appear to be the active principles within the herb. These sulphur compounds are highly complex and many are unstable in air, but when consumed provide significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in animals and humans. Because antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in plants are thought to confer mood elevating effects, researchers have investigated the effects of garlic in animal models of anxiety and depression. In one such study, researchers fed rats garlic extract for 10 days before exposing them to stressful conditions designed to alter their mood. The results of the study showed that the garlic extract was significantly able to lower the depressive and anxious behaviour in the rats and at the same time decreased the oxidative stress in the brains of the rats. This latter effect was likely due to observed increases in antioxidant enzymes within the brain.
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